Ziprasidone

Sounds like 'zi-PRAS-i-done'

Easy-to-read medicine information about ziprasidone – what it is, how to take ziprasidone safely and possible side effects.

Type of medicine Also called
  • Antipsychotic
  • Belongs to a group of medicines known as atypical antipsychotics 
  • Zusdone®
  • Zeldox®

What is ziprasidone?

Ziprasidone is used to treat some types of mental illness such as schizophrenia, mania and agitation in psychosis. It does not cure these conditions but is used to help ease the symptoms and help you on your recovery path. It can help improve symptoms such as the experience of hearing voices (hallucinations), ideas that distress you and don't seem to be based in reality (delusions), and difficulty in thinking clearly (thought disorder).  Ziprasidone belongs to a group of medicines called antipsychotics. Read more about antipsychotic medication. 

In New Zealand, ziprasidone is available as capsules.

Dose

  • The usual dose of ziprasidone capsules is 40 milligrams twice a day.
  • Some people may require higher doses, up to 80 milligrams twice a day.
  • Always take your ziprasidone exactly as your doctor has told you. The pharmacy label on your medicine will tell you how much ziprasidone to take, how often to take it, and any special instructions.

How to take ziprasidone

  • Take ziprasidone twice a day, in the morning and evening. Try taking your ziprasidone doses at the same times each day.
  • Swallow your ziprasidone capsules with a glass of water. 
  • It is best to take ziprasidone with food or just after food.
  • If you forget to take your dose, take it as soon as you remember that day. But, if it is nearly time for your next dose, just take the next dose at the right time. Do not take double the dose.
  • Keep taking ziprasidone every day. It usually takes a few weeks to start working and it can take several months before you feel the full benefits.
  • Do not stop taking ziprasidone suddenly as your symptoms may return if stopped too early; speak to your doctor or nurse before stopping.

Precautions – before starting ziprasidone

  • Do you have any heart problems such as an irregular heartbeat, heart failure or low blood pressure?
  • Have you recently had a heart attack?
  • Do you have Parkinson’s Disease or epilepsy?
  • Do you have diabetes or problems with high cholesterol?
  • Are you pregnant or breastfeeding?
  • Do you have problems with your prostate?
  • Are you taking any other medicines, including medicines you can buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines?

If any of these apply, it’s important that you tell your doctor or pharmacist before you start ziprasidone. Sometimes a medicine isn’t suitable for a person with certain conditions, or it can only be used with extra care, that your pharmacist will tell you about.

Precautions – while taking ziprasidone

  • Alcohol: avoid alcohol while you are taking ziprasidone, especially when you first start treatment. Drinking alcohol while taking ziprasidone can cause drowsiness and affect concentration, putting you at risk of falls and other accidents. It can also cause agitation, aggression and forgetfulness. If you do drink alcohol, drink only small amounts and see how you feel. Do not stop taking your medication.
  • Weight: let your doctor know if you notice that you are putting on a lot of weight, especially when you first start taking ziprasidone. 
  • Blood tests and other monitoring: ziprasidone may cause changes in your blood glucose level, your cholesterol level and in your heart function. To keep an eye out for these effects, your doctor will check your physical health. You will have your weight measured regularly. You may also need to have blood tests to check your kidneys, liver, cholesterol and glucose levels. You may also have your blood pressure measured and an ECG test to check your heart rate.

Possible side effects

Like all medicines, ziprasidone can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them. Often side effects improve as your body gets used to the new medicine.

Side effects What should I do?
  • Feeling sleepy, drowsy, or tired
  • It can last a few hours after the dose
  • Don’t drive or operate machinery
  • Avoid drinking alcohol
  • Feeling shaky and restless (cannot sit still)
  • Eyes or tongue may move on their own
 
  • It is not dangerous but a well-known side effect
  • If it is troublesome, tell your doctor
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Try not to stand up too quickly. You are at risk of falls. Try and lie or sit down if you feel it coming on
  • If you feel dizzy, don't drive
 
  • Problems falling asleep or staying asleep (called insomnia)
 
  • Tell your doctor if troublesome – ask your doctor if you can take your medicine at a different time or reduce the dose
  • Feeling like your heart is racing
  • Feeling too hot or too cold
  • Tell your doctor
  • Weight gain
  • A diet full of vegetables and fibre may help prevent weight gain
  • Limit sugary or fatty foods and exercise regularly
  • Speak with your doctor if you think you are putting on weight
  • Muscle weakness
  • Discuss with your doctor.  It should wear off after a couple of weeks
  • Feeling anxious or nervous (being more on edge)
  • Try and relax by taking deep breaths
  • Wear loose-fitting clothes 

Interactions

Ziprasidone interacts with many other medications and herbal supplements so check with your doctor or pharmacist before starting ziprasidone or before starting any new medicines.

Learn more

The following link has more information on ziprasidone

Zeldox Medsafe Consumer Information (NZ)

References

  1. Ziprasidone New Zealand Formulary
  2. Antipsychotic drugs New Zealand Formulary
  3. Prescribing atypical antipsychotics in general practice BPAC, 2011
  4. Managing patients with dementia: What is the role of antipsychotics? BPAC, 2013
Credits: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist. Reviewed By: Angela Lambie, Pharmacist, Auckland Last reviewed: 05 Mar 2018